HC Deb 13 July 1998 vol 316 c12
11. Mr. Tom Cox (Tooting)

What assessment he has made of the pilot tagging schemes. [48405]

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Jack Straw)

Research into the first two years of the pilot schemes of curfew orders enforced by electronic monitoring under the Criminal Justice Act 1991 has been published as a Home Office research study. The study indicates that the technology works—which is just as well—and that over 80 per cent. of orders were successfully completed. Further, more detailed research is being undertaken.

Mr. Cox

While I note my right hon. Friend's reply, does he agree that, as the scheme is developed and the proper supervision and safeguards are put in place, we should welcome it as an alternative to prison? At what age can a person be electronically tagged?

Mr. Straw

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's welcome for the measure. It is certainly an appropriate alternative to prison for some offenders, not least because of the cost, which is less than £2,000 per order, compared with some £25,000 a year for a period of imprisonment. My hon. Friend asked at what age a person can be electronically tagged. We are piloting the use of electronic monitoring tags for 10 to 15-year-olds and, so far, 10 orders have been issued in respect of juveniles.

Miss Julie Kirkbride (Bromsgrove)

I was struck by the Home Secretary's comment that 80 per cent. of cases were deemed to be successful. Can he explain what happened in the other 20 per cent. of cases, so that the House might know what went wrong?

Mr. Straw

They were unsuccessful. Since the hon. Lady asks, of 973 sentences that were completed, 163 were revoked. If an offender breaks the conditions of the electronic monitoring, he or she is taken back to court and, typically, will be sent to prison.